A lively and engaging Tips from the Top panel session involving key figures from the region’s gases industry has brought the North American Industrial Gas Conference 2012 to a successful close.

The event, held in Miami, Florida this week, marks gasworld’s first conference in the region and has been met with a positive reception from all involved.

With the title 2020 Vision – The Need for Clear Thinking on the Changing Dynamics of the North America Industrial Gas Business, the conference sought to address both the current and future structure of the region’s gases industry – and how to position for the next wave of growth ahead.

The conference began with an exploration of the economic climate and prospects in the region, courtesy of The Economist’s Robert Powell, who reflected on the difficult economic climate while also optimistic about the future for US economy.

“We’ve got to get a little used to austerity. If we can’t reach a deal on the Fiscal Cliff then things are going to get a bit tricky. We think at the moment, that the US economy will grow by about 2.1% in 2013. If it falls off the Fiscal Cliff, however, then it will shrink by about 0.5% - and will be back in recession.”

“But if we manage to avoid that and get something together, we think the US is exceptionally well placed for future growth. Flat US wages have made the country more competitive, wages haven’t really changed in the US since the 1980s which is not great for the middle classes, but it is a great competitive strength for the US economy. The other factor that is making the US so competitive is the energy story, which you all know about very well.”

Samuel Zouaghi, Cryostar

A number of esteemed speakers followed, with a host of presentations covering the shale gas boom, natural gas, and LNG – highlighting the growing significance of this sector for the gases business. Keynote speakers in this area included Cryogenic Industries’ Joseph Pak, Cryostar’s Samuel Zouaghi, Nopetro’s Jorge Herrera, and Garrett Gee of PWC.

Spiritus Group’s John Raquet questioned whether the gas community had taken its eye off the prize in North America and gave a presentation focused on the view to 2020. He highlighted a number of challenges and therefore, opportunities ahead in the region.

Other notable presentations across the two-day event came courtesy of BGC’s Dick Betzendahl, who gave an insight into the rare gases market and is future, Chart Industries’ Tom Carey and his exploration of the evolution in cryogenic supply, and Advanced Cryogenics’ Sam Rushing, who gave a detailed account of the CO2 supply infrastructure in the US, its challenges and potential sources of supply in the future.

Norco President Jim Kissler offered his own view to 2020, as a local independent based in Idaho, and how he anticipates Norco will develop over the coming years.

Jim Kissler Miami 2012

“This philosophy of listening to what you customer needs, having that diversity, is what has helped our company to grow. I think that we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to grow our business into new markets, and we will also continue to broaden our product line and offer products that our customers need in stable, solid markets.”

“Growth and diversity,” he concluded, “are the secrets to our success and I think we’re going to keep them going for the next eight years.”

Phil Kornbluth Miami 2012

Engaging

Arguably two of the most popular and engaging presentations were delivered by Gee and MATHESON’s Phil Kornbluth, respectively. Gee, Director of PWC Global Chemical Advisories Team, affirmed the promise for shale gas and LNG and described how the effects of these will prove to be a ‘game changer’ globally. Meanwhile Kornbluth gave an authoritative and informed presentation about the global helium market, the looming Helium Cliff, and market outlook.

The spirit of engagement continued with the Tips from the Top panel session, which brought the curtain down on a hugely successful first conference in the region for gasworld.

Five key industrial gas professionals in the North American market assembled on stage for a Q&A style interview and debate about the industry’s future, featuring Rick Young (ACD), Rick Kowey (MATHESON), Eric Rottier (Taylor-Wharton International), Hector Villarreal (Weldcoa) and Jim Kissler (Norco).

That lively exchange of views and information was followed by some more valuable promotional booth time - and those delegates still in attendance will this evening be treated to a Cultural Evening of fine food, drink and entertainment.